Rio Tinto will invest $10 million in a four-year national program, targeted at school students, that aims to fast-track the development of STEM skills needed for the digital future including critical thinking, problem-solving, automation, systems design and data analytics.
Working with experts in Australia’s education and innovation sectors, the new STEM skills education program is designed to tackle a looming skills gap in the nation’s future workforce.
The program, officially launched on 25 November 2019 at the Rio Tinto Centre for Mine Automation at the University of Sydney, and developed in partnership with startup accelerator BlueChilli and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the program will crowd-source and fund ideas from start-ups and schools.
Designed to prepare young Australians for the future workforce, the initial phase of the program will identify existing ed-tech projects aimed at enhancing future skills, that can be scaled-up quickly for the use of students, teachers and parents.
Data compiled by employment analytics firm Burning Glass shows there is a shortage of transferable, broad-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills, such as systems analysis and programming, and broader expertise, such as communication and problem solving, needed for the digital revolution.
An advisory board of Australian education, innovation and business leaders, to be announced early next year, will guide the accelerator program and recommend future areas for investment. In 2020, startups selected for the program will each receive a grant from Rio Tinto, as well as training and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs.
Rio Tinto will also encourage other business, education and innovation leaders to join the program.
Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said, “This new program takes a bold and disruptive approach to identifying solutions that will help equip young people with the knowledge and skills for a changing world.”
“Rapid technological change is transforming our lives, and the pace of change is only increasing, challenging our ability to attract, develop and retain the talent needed to run our operations of the future.’
He added that workers with transferable skills including broad-based Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths (STEAM) are critical for Australia’s future productivity and global competitiveness.
“Addressing the change in skills required by mining and other industries is a task that requires new thinking and genuine partnerships between business, governments and academia. This approach significantly expands the network of organisations focused on equipping people for a digital future,’ Mr Jacques added.
For more information or to register an interest in the program, please click here.